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France Presidential election 2017 Fran├žois Fillon

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Presidential election: Race tightens among the top four

Campaign posters of the 11 candidates who run in the presidential election are seen in Le Soler, near Perpignan, on April 15, 2017. Jean-Paul Pelissier/REUTERS

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and François Fillon have closed the gap on the leading two contenders Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen for the first round of the presidential election that takes place of April 23, a latest poll suggests.

According to the Ipsos poll conducted for the daily Le Monde, both centrist Macron and far-right leader Le Pen are on 22 per cent while communist-backed Mélenchon and scandal hit Les Republicains candidate Fillon are on 20 and 19 per cent respectively.

The poll confirms the continuation of Mélenchon’s surge over the past four weeks, when he not only overtook Socialist Party’s Benoit Hamon to become the leading candidate of the Left but also managed to become a frontrunner.

Meanwhile, the dip in Le Pen’s poll ratings came as French prosecutors said they had petitioned the European Parliament to lift her immunity so that she can be prosecuted over an expenses scandal.

Le Pen last month invoked her parliamentary immunity in refusing to attend questioning by investigating magistrates.

On Friday, she shrugged off the prosecutors’ move.

“It’s a totally normal step, I’m not surprised,” said the leader of Front National member of the European Parliament, who sees the investigation as a plot to derail her presidential bid.

With just one week left for the crucial first round, the race has become tighter and the result more unpredictable.

‘Won’t vote for Le Pen in second round’

Presidential election candidate Jacques Cheminade of the Solidarité et Progrès party said he will not vote for Le Pen if the latter qualifies for the second round saying the president of Front National is “the falsehood.”

In the scenario of a duel between Le Pen and Fillon, he said he will vote ‘blank’ something he will do in the case of Macron and Le Pen reaching the second round as well. “I am very disappointed. I will find it very difficult to vote for him,” he said.

He said that he finds Mélenchon’s character extremely interesting and extremely worrying.

- with AFP